Atticus Greene Haygood (1839 - 1896) was an American bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
The Man of Galileeby Atticus G. Haygood, John Gahan FIE. (Editor)
If it could be demonstrably proved that there never existed such a person as Jesus, Christianity, as a living force, would cease from the earth. There would indeed be a history, a literature that would interest people according to their tastes
Who and what was Jesus of Nazareth? In this question and its answer is involved the whole of what we mean by Christianity.
If it could be demonstrably proved that there never existed such a person as Jesus, Christianity, as a living force, would cease from the earth. There would indeed be a history, a literature that would interest people according to their tastes; but there would be no heart-changing, world-up-lifting system of vital and vitalizing truths and corresponding duties, binding upon the conscience of every human being and inspiring hope in every breast.
In the discussions we are about to enter nothing will be assumed except what is too obvious to question. It will not be assumed that the little books called "gospels" were inspired at all. You will not be asked to consider any miracle, said to have been performed by Jesus, as making proof of his divinity. Nor will I quote proof-texts to show that he is divine.
The first question to ask is this: Did such a person as Jesus is described to have been ever really exist? Did Jesus really live in Nazareth and work in Joseph's shop? Did he, for some three years and six months, go to and fro among men teaching them? Was there, in the days of Herod and Pilate, a Jesus as surely as there was a Cæsar?
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In The Man of Galilee, Atticus Haygood sets out to show the reader that Jesus is the Son of God. He directs his writing toward the skeptic, and presents arguments that can be used to show the deity of Christ to someone before they believe that the Bible is the word of God. Haygood addresses the claims that Jesus was an invention of the gospel writers and that Jesus was just a man. He makes his case by considering who the gospel writers were, and Jesus' words, plans, worldview, and life to show that Jesus could be none other than the Christ, the Son of God. Overall, the material in the book was rather good. However, there were a couple issues I had with the book. The first is the lack of Scripture citations. Granted, the author wrote this for the benefit of those who would not even acknowledge the Bible as God's word. But even when one quotes a regular piece of literature or reference material, a citation is given. There is little to none of this in this book. So one who wants to verify that the quotations do in fact come from the Bible, or wishes to study them further, needs to have a concordance to find the verses Haygood cites. The second problem I had with the book, which in my opinion is the more serious one, is with the author's view of the church. Haygood writes, "He did not so much as establish a Church. [...] He ordained no form of church government. All those things may be good, and order in government is necessary; but he did not provide them. He left all such things to the common sense and best judgment, guided by the providence and the Holy Spirit, of his disciples" (p. 78-79). Haygood's claim that Jesus established no church flies in the face of Jesus' words to His disciples: "I will build My church" (Matthew 16:18). The apostles did not establish a church. They did not invent the rules, doctrines, and practices of the church according to their own "common sense and best judgment." They certainly were guided by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). But the Holy Spirit's guidance did not just give them better judgment and common sense, it revealed to them the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), so that the things they taught were "the Lord's commandment" (1 Corinthians 14:37; see also 1 Thessalonians 4:2; 2 Peter 3:2). Haygood has a skewed perception of the role of human judgment in the church. His words suggest that men today can do whatever they please according to what their common sense and judgment dictate. Instead, we are bound by what the word of God teaches (Colossians 3:17). I cannot recommend this book without this disclaimer. But if one recognizes this fault, there is still much valuable material contained in this book. There are many good points in it that can help us teach unbelievers about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Too often circular reasoning is used in order to defend the divinity of Jesus. A conversation might resemble the following: How do you know Jesus is the son of God? Because the Bible says so. How do you know the Bible is accurate? Because Jesus said it was inspired. Why should I trust what Jesus had to say? Because Jesus is the son of God. I think the problem of logic is fairly obvious. Over the past few years there have been some great books written that help people with their faith on the subject of who and what Jesus is. Most notably is Lee Strobel. His "Case for..." books are very helpful and well written. However, I have never been as impressed with the flow of an author's argument as I was when reading Atticus G. Haygood's The Man of Galilee. The book does not exercise the common arguments of modern defenders. Though the book is over 100 years old I found its arguments and logic fresh and convincing. Haygood starts with the gospels as historical documents, as opposed to starting with them as inspired documents. From there he discusses the claims they make of Jesus against the culture and society of Jesus' day. The conclusion is that not only was Jesus not just an invention of gospel writers or, simply, a good man, He was in fact the Son of God!